As mentioned in previous National Wind blogs, the wind power industry has been continuously growing and expanding, especially in recent years. However, in the current economy, can that trend continue?
In the last five years, the annual growth rate of the wind industry averaged 32% (up from 28% in the five previous years). According to the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) 2009 wind industry outlook released last week, America’s installed wind capacity is predicted grow by at least 20% in 2009, equating to an addition of approximately 5,000 MW. This estimation is greatly dependent on the implementation of certain federal incentives and regulations, but confidence is high due to President Obama’s support of the wind industry.

Currently, the United States is leading the world in total installed wind capacity and annual additions its wind portfolio. The United States currently has 25,369 MW in operation, which allowed it to pull ahead of long-time leader Germany at the end of 2008. Furthermore, the U.S. added 8,545 MW of new installations in 2008, edging out China, which installed 6,300 MW last year.

Some factors of the wind industry that have previously remained fairly constant are facing probable change in 2009. For example, the average capacity of turbines installed in 2008 is 1.67 MW, which is only a slight increase from previous years. With a variety of 2 to 3 MW turbines arriving on the market, the average turbine capacity could increase significantly in 2009. Meanwhile, domestic turbine manufacturing is also increasing its capacity. With a promising outlook on US wind development and some of the best wind regimes in the world, the US is quickly growing its market share of wind turbine technology. Manufacturers, looking to produce where their product is in high demand, are opening up new plants across the U.S. Six (soon to be seven) of the world’s top 10 utility-scale wind turbine manufactures have a presence in the United States. This growth is creating local jobs and helping boost the American economy.